Eastern Illinois to play at Minnesota in 2026

By Kevin Kelley -

The Eastern Illinois Panthers will play at the Minnesota Golden Gophers in 2026, FBSchedules.com has learned.

A copy of the football game agreement between the two schools was obtained from Eastern Illinois University via a state Freedom of Information Act request.

Eastern Illinois will travel to face Minnesota at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2026. The Golden Gophers will pay the Panthers a $500,000 guarantee for playing the game, according to the copy of the contract.

Eastern Illinois and Minnesota have only met once previously on the gridiron. The Golden Gophers defeated the Panthers 42-20 in that contest on Aug. 28, 2014 in Minneapolis.

Minnesota is the second scheduled non-conference opponent for Eastern Illinois for the 2026 season. The Panthers are also scheduled to host the Indiana State Sycamores on Sept. 12.

The Golden Gophers also now have two non-conference opponents slated for 2026. Following the season-opener against Eastern Illinois, Minnesota hosts the Mississippi State Bulldogs at TCF Bank Stadium in Sept. 12.

Eastern Illinois opens the fall 2021 season in Week Zero on Saturday, Aug. 28 on the road against Indiana State. Minnesota opens their season with a home Big Ten contest against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Thursday, Sept. 2.

Football Schedules